The College Football Playoff Championship game has passed in dramatic fashion, with Alabama triumphing in overtime. With the college football season officially behind us, that only means one thing: It is now Senior Bowl season. With the only a few weeks to go until Senior Bowl week and with the depth of the 2018 wide receiver class, the debate is sure to rage on about who scouts and analysts prefer amongst this group.
Let’s take a look at the group of wide receivers who have the potential to take over Mobile in a few weeks.
We all know about the big catches Marcell Ateman has made this season, but he could be the best blocking receiver in the class. Carries his man 10+ yards. pic.twitter.com/R3FexPpFoH
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) January 5, 2018
Marcell Ateman – Oklahoma State – 6’4 220 pounds: The initial thing that sticks out with Ateman is his frame and athleticism. His size, coupled with his strength in his upper and lower body, his stride length, and hip flexibility combine to make an impressive specimen. Ateman has great body control, and attacks the catch point well downfield and along the sideline. He has good hands, and almost never lets the ball come into his body, using his length to reach out away from his chest plate. Even at his size, Ateman is good at the breakpoint, disguising them with his headgear and using his hands well to create separation. He is pretty good as a ball carrier, using his stride length to get upfield and physicality and strength to break tackles. Lastly, Ateman is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the class, as his effort is always high and he uses his upper body strength and length to latch onto smaller defensive backs and drive them. He should thrive as an intermediate and deep target in Mobile and at the next level.
Anthony Miller – Memphis – 5’11 190 pounds: The former walk-on exploded onto the scene in 2016, and has accumulated nine 10 catch games and fourteen 100 yard receiving games over the last two seasons. Miller holds his high school’s track records in two hurdle and two jumping events, showing his explosiveness and flexibility. Miller uses those traits in his stems and at the breakpoint in his route running. He has good hand usage, quick feet, hips that can sink, and uses head fakes and shoulder dips to create deception. Something that sticks out with Miller is that he is always working to get open against zone coverage, and he never ever stops competing between the whistles. This type of high effort shows up in his blocking as well, as he is consistently working hard for his teammates. Miller uses his low center of gravity and good balance with the ball in his hands paired with exceptional vision. Miller has good elusiveness but not as great as you’d hope for an undersized player, and his lack of size will also mostly limit him to slot duties in the NFL.
Cedrick Wilson is an impressive player. Direct in his movements. Eats yards vs cushion, good w/ 50/50 balls. Takes a beating but gets right back up-really tough guy. Value as a returner. Probably a late 2nd RD guy for me. Insane flavor at the top of this WR class.
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) December 20, 2017
Cedrick Wilson Jr. – Boise State – 6’3 188 pounds: The son of seven year NFL veteran receiver Cedrick Wilson, the younger Wilson garnered All-Mountain West First Team honors in 2017, a year after also being named to the conference’s All-Academic team. A high school quarterback, Wilson transitioned to WR seamlessly after two years in Junior College, recording at least two catches in all 26 career games for Boise State. Wilson is fast with flexibility in his hips, and he wins routes with double moves and deception with his headgear. However, when he can’t create this separation, he struggled mightily with physicality throughout his routes. This stems from his thinner frame, and he will need to add bulk for the next level. Wilson is prone to the occasional drop, but when he is catching the ball it is constantly with his hands, away from his chest. With the ball in his hands, Wilson has good vision and exceptional balance to pair with his good acceleration. He moves around the formation and has return ability for the next level, highlighting his potential versatility for an NFL team.
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Allen Lazard – Iowa State – 6’5 222 pounds: Lazard is a team captain at Iowa State, and it shows in his continually high effort and motor. With his effort, he is an exceptional run blocker and the Cyclones have involved him in run blocking schemes. As a route runner, Lazard is a strider but has good lateral mobility for someone his size. Lazard isn’t overly fast or bouncy, but he’s passable in both areas. He’s pretty good at the breakpoint, snapping his head back to the QB coupled with good hand usage to keep clean breaks. Lazard is a hands catcher, and he has flashed the ability to have great ball skills over defensive backs. Occasionally, his body control can he awkward in how he attacks the ball in flight, but his potential in 50/50 balls is crazy high. As a runner, Lazard doesn’t show much elusiveness, but he keeps his legs churning and uses his physicality to break a good amount of tackles. Lazard projects as an outside WR at the next level with a relatively high ceiling.
Darren Carrington – Utah – 6’2 205 pounds: The graduate transfer from Oregon often found himself in trouble off the field, but he has kept his head down and stayed clean in his lone season with the Utes. The son of an 8 year NFL veteran, Carrington comes from one of most impressive athletic family pedigrees you can find. Carrington possesses the best releases off the line of scrimmage in this WR class, continually creating separation immediately in his routes. Carrington has exceptional body control, and is deceptive at the breakpoint with a variety of moves stemming from his hip flexibility. He has good ball skills and does a good job of attacking the catchpoint in the intermediate. Carrington plays with an edge and is a high effort blocker, always trying to outcompete the defensive back. Carrington is tough to bring down in one on one situations because of his lateral movement, but a major negative with him is his atrocious ball security. If Carrington can stay out of trouble, he will be a talented piece for an NFL offense.
D.J. Chark – Louisiana State – 6’4 198 pounds: Chark is Mr. Intangible, as growing up he didn’t miss a day of school for 13 years and had a 3.9 GPA. Chark comes from a family of Track & Field athletes, and you can see it in him as he is a smooth runner. He has good balance and has shown ability as a runner and receiver. He stands to add a little bulk before the next level, but his overall physical profile is that of an NFL wide receiver. Occasionally, Chark will open up his hips too early on his breaks, but has also shown some ability using double moves to create separation. Chark shows good body control downfield, but too often he allows the ball to come into his body which gets him in trouble with dropped passes. Chark hustles all over the field and his effort while blocking, even after he runs RPO routes, is exceptional. Being moved all around the formation, including a ton of motions in Matt Canada’s system, should improve his versatility for the NFL.
– Oklahoma State WR #1
– Team Captain
– 6'0 205 Pounds
– Two time All Big-12 First Team (2016 and 2017)
– All Big-12 Academic Team
– Has a catch in 48 Straight Games
– Three straight seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards and 10+ TDs pic.twitter.com/IeqHZAhm2G
— NFL Draft Videos (@NFLDraftVideos) December 1, 2017
James Washington – Oklahoma State – 6’0 205 pounds: The Biletnikoff Award winner makes his way to Mobile after three seasons of 1,000+ yards and 10+ TD’s in Stillwater. The decorated reciever has picked up All-Big 12 honors to go along with a All-Big 12 academic classroom performance. Washington will bring a knack for the big play to the next level as he is an exceptional athlete with speed and leaping ability and comes with an exceptional Track & Field background. Washington doesn’t flash much deception or nuance in his route running, and is inconsistent with his hand usage. Despite this, he uses his athleticism to stab and be fast at the breakpoint, but his stems can be erratic. He has good body control at all levels of the field, but is inconsistent with his downfield ball skills. Washington doesn’t show much elusiveness as a ball carrier and his vision often gets him in trouble. In blocking, Washington’s effort leaves a lot to be desired as too often his motor is low and he gets caught watching the play. Also, his versatility will be questioned as he’s played almost exclusively from outside right and could use more work in the slot in preparation for the next level.
Jaleel Scott – New Mexico State – 6’6 215 pounds: The Junior College product burst onto the scene this season with his impressive length and athletic ability. The first thing that sticks out with Scott is his elite body control giving him the most potential on 50/50 balls of anyone in the class. Scott has inconsistent ball skills, but when asked to fully stretch out he is capable and has strong hands. Scott is a good athlete with decent fluidity and great leaping ability, and can be smooth at the breakpoint. For his size, he flashes active releases and the ability to sink his hips. He has only relative speed, but gets vertical quickly with the ball in his hands. Despite his size he hasn’t shown much tackle breaking ability as a ball carrier, or much elusiveness. Scott projects as an outside WR who can help in the run game with his potential in his blocking ability.
RELATED: Senior Bowl Offensive Line Preview
Credit to @jake_burns18 for this cut up. Michael Gallup checks all the boxes in this video:
•High pointing the ball
•looking in passes with eyes & hands#WR2 pic.twitter.com/3y4LBQe0su
— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) January 8, 2018
Michael Gallup – Colorado State – 6’1 200 pounds: Another Junior College product, Gallup’s production against Power 5 competition has him in the conversation among the top wide receivers in the NFL draft. Gallup is a pretty good athlete but isn’t exceptional in his speed or leaping ability, though he has a powerful lower body. Gallup is a methodical route runner, and he finds voids against zone nicely. He has to fight through a lot on contact in his stems because he doesn’t flash much deception or flexibility. This could trouble him at the next level in a league with more technique driven cornerback play. Gallup was heavily involved in the screen game, and is a physical runner with his strong legs. Downfield, he has decent ball skills but sometimes questionable body control. In the stalk blocking game, Gallup gets caught watching the play too often and can be prone to effort issues. With his size and how he is used in routes at all levels of the field, Gallup projects as a movable piece in an NFL offense.
J’Mon Moore – Missouri – 6’3 205 pounds: The redshirt senior garnered All-SEC honors for the second straight season, and he has at least one catch in all 37 games he’s played in his Missouri career. He is an inconsistent route runner, as he continually opens his hips too often and has poor stems and releases. This forces him into contact or around the cornerback too far inside or outside. Moore has shaky hands and is inconsistent at the catch point, as his ball skills leave a ton to be desired. However, on top of his impressive physical stature he shows good speed, great balance and good vision. These traits helped him really produce in the screen game as an exceptional ball carrier. Moore has good length and is a swift runner with optimal knee drive, and is a plus athlete heading into the next level. He uses his length and plus effort to be a more than capable blocker, latching onto cornerbacks well. He strictly played as an outside left receiver at Missouri, and will need to prove to teams he can move around at the next level.
Braxton Berrios – Miami – 5’9 186 pounds: The scrappy slot wide receiver from Miami had a productive senior year after a few seasons that saw him unable to carve out consistent playing time. Berrios is a double major in Finance and Entrepreneurship with a 3.96 GPA, showing his pristine off the field reputation. Berrios is undersized, but uses this to his advantage. He is ultra quick, and creates separation underneath and in the intermediate because of his ability at the breakpoint. His nuance and route deception mirror his ultra-quick abilities. He was heavily targeted and involved in the Hurricanes passing offense, too quick for linebackers and too technically sound for safeties, and his projection at the next level is of the prototypical slot guy. Berrios is a natural punt returner, and his versatility and character assures that he will stick around in the NFL.